Andy Ward
traditional SW pottery

The hunt for the Salado white slip continues…

Last Saturday I hiked over 9 miles, a good deal of the way with a pack full of clay, to get what I suspect to be Bentonite clay from the Sacaton Wash area of the San Pedro Valley. I have used this clay before years ago, so I know what it’s like, but now I’m going to see how it performs with vegetal paint.

While I was out there, I climbed a small unnamed hill to look around and found a prehistoric shrine, a large pile of rocks with pottery shards associated, one was definitely Hohokam.

I also went to Phoenix this weekend to some volcanic ash, so with these two and the volcanic ash from A Mountain I collected a couple of weeks ago, I should have something that works in the next few days.

 I have most of this week off so I will be working hard to get this Salado Polychrome dilemma ironed out.


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About Andy Ward

I am an independent researcher, writer and artist interested in all things Southwestern. Southeast Arizona is my home and area of primary interest.

2 thoughts on “Bentonite?”

  1. Mark says:

    I too make salado polychrome replicas. Did you have any success with the
    slip? I personally am not a follower of the vegetal paint theory.


  2. Andy Ward says:


    Yes, I do believe that I am making some progress although I have not located the source yet. I am convinced it is bentonite or some related type that is highly absorptive. The Thornburgs have made some stunning Salado replicas using their New River volcanic ash, which works great but I don’t feel the source is right, not close enough to the Salado heartland.

    It is vegetal paint, the fuzzy edges, the lack of any raised area over the black. At least this is what I am seeing from Salado polychromes in my area (far southeast Arizona). If you are not going for vegetal paint any old white clay will do, I have a great source for that near Double Adobe, Arizona.

    Feel free to contact me directly if you want specifics on any clay or mineral sources.

    Andy Ward

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